Saturday, 22 December 2012

Book Review- The Artist Of Disappearance, Anita Desai

Paperback, 176 pages
Published 2012 by Vintage Books (first published August 1st 2011)
8184002815 (ISBN13: 9788184002812)
edition language
In this trio of exquisitely crafted novellas, experience the soaring brilliance and delicate restraint of one of Indias great writers. In the opening novella, The Museum of Final Journeys, a junior Civil Service officer is assigned to a remote outpost. Bored with his new surroundings, he welcomes the diversion when he is called upon by an old retainer to help preserve the decaying treasures of one familys private museum. Tantalizing and nostalgic, this is an allegory of time and dissolution, and of how the past erodes beauty and the present.In the second novella, Translator Translated, a prematurely aged lecturer at a girls college chances upon the opportunity of a lifetime when a self-absorbed publisher commissions her to translate to English a collection of short stories of an obscure Oriya author. The assignment transforms her humdrum life, but when the authors family complains about a translation with which she has taken artistic licence her life unravels.Finally, in the title novella, set in Mussoorie, the reclusive son of wealthy, neglectful parents has a solipsistic existence in the remains of a burnt house high on a mountain. The arrival of a venal film crew from Delhi, making a film about environmental degradation, compels him to withdraw even further into seclusion.Intense, haunting and evocative, The Artist of Disappearance is a delightful rumination on solitude and human frailties.
My Review-
Stringing together three novellas, The Artist Of Disappearance is a one of a kind book that’ll take years of reading for anyone to come across. Anita Desai is of those very few novelists who manage to combine the rarest of the elements of the Indian culture and weave a story out of it.
The first novella, The Museum Of Final Journeys revolves around a junior Civil Officer who has been transferred to a remote place. To kill time and fight his loneliness, he devotes himself towards the preservation of a private family museum on the call of an old retainer. The second novella, Translator Translated, the story does circles around a lecturer at a girls’ college who tumbles into an opportunity of the lifetime when a publisher approaches her to translate a set of short stories from Odia to English. As the story unfolds, the lecturer sees her life transform. The final title novella, The Artist Of Disappearance, Desai explores the life of the son of a wealthy backdrop in Mussoorie living in a ruined ancient house in the hills and the changes that come about with the arrival of a crew from Delhi filming a documentary on environmental degradation.
The tales of solitude and the character’s approach towards it, or his attempts at combating it is what makes this piece so unique. The emotions are intense and haunting. There seems to be no facet that is left out on. Everything has been beautifully justified and wonderfully explained.
About The Author-
born- June 24, 1937 in India    
gender- female
genre- Literature & Fiction, Children's Books   

Anita Desai was born in 1937. Her published works include adult novels, children's books and short stories. SHe is a member of the Advisory Board for English of the National Academy of Letters in Delhi and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in London. Anita Mazumdar Desai is an Indian novelist and Emeritus John E. Burchard Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has been shortlisted for the Booker prize three times. Her daughter, the author Kiran Desai, is the winner of the 2006 Booker prize.


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